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Monday, March 16, 2015

In a world that says you have to provide more choices, create more products, run hundreds of plays and be everything to everyone if you want to be successful, there is something very powerful about simplicity, clarity and leading with your strengths.

There are a million things you can choose to do each day. There are many of the latest and greatest fads that you can partake in. You possess many weaknesses that you can choose to focus on. But I want you to know that you and your team will be at your best when you develop and lead with your strengths.

Everyone including Green Bay's competition knew the Power Sweep was coming and yet they still couldn't stop it. Coach Lombardi and his team developed a strength that became an unstoppable force of positive momentum and so will you when you identify, develop and lead with your strengths.

What are your strengths? What do you do best? What are your best selling products?

Where can you be the strongest? What do you want to become known for?

Once you know the answers to these questions then you'll want to spend your time, energy, focus, practice and effort simplifying, mastering the fundamentals, developing your strengths and creating a culture of execution.

The more time you spend developing and leading with your strengths the more you will become known for them. The stronger your strengths become the greater impact you will have.

The world doesn't need another average business. The world doesn't need an average you. The world needs your BEST YOU. And when you lead with your strengths you can share YOUR BEST with the world.

From Jon Gordon's website (author of The Energy Bus, 2007)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

from Tom Wilson

Tom Wilson, Athletic Director at Dowling Catholic High School, was our speaker on January 19, 2015 during our shared Professional Development day with English Valleys CSD. He gave a very inspirng speech and told us that "the job you have now is incredibly important". We can have a great impact on our kids. Parents put their faith and pride in us as educators; and communication in a small Iowa town can make so many differences in so many lives.

Monday, October 27, 2014

5 C's to Build a Great Team
As posted by Jon Gordon author of The Energy Bus

High performing teams don’t happen by accident. They are built and developed by leaders who focus on building a great team and team members who strive to be part of a great team. In this spirit I want to share 5 C’s leaders and teams can focus on to build a great team.

1. Communicate - Most teams, including teams at home, break down because of poor communication. As I wrote in Soup, where there is a void in communication negativity fills it. Frequent and positive communication fills the void and begins the process of building trust. You can’t have a great team without strong relationships and you can’t have strong relationships without great communication and trust. Leaders must communicate with team members individually and collectivity as a team and team members must enhance their communication with each other.

2. Connect - While communicating begins the process of building trust, connecting is what creates a bond of trust. Many teams communicate but the great ones also connect. (Tweet This) They form bonds of trust that strengthen relationships and the team. They go deeper, below the surface level of communication, and communicate and connect in a more intimate and powerful way. Getting to know your team members, being vulnerable, sharing experiences together, facing challenges together, and working on projects together are a few ways to connect.

3. Commitment - Without communication, connection and commitment your team will not perform at a high level. Communication and connection build the trust that generates the commitment that fosters the teamwork that delivers results. Great teams are not only committed to doing great work. They are also committed to each other. They put the team first and are willing to serve and sacrifice for the benefit of the team.

4. Care - When you care you give a little more time, a little more effort, a little more energy, and a little more love to the things and the people you care about. You may be a good team but to be a great team I encourage you to care just a little more. Care about the work you do and how it contributes to the team. Care about the people you work with. Care about the mission of your team. Those who care build great things that others care about. (Tweet This)

5. Contagious Energy - Of course I’m talking about contagious positive energy. Great teams are filled with positive energy and it’s important for each person on the team to know that they are contagious. If you’re moody your negative energy is contagious and makes it hard for others to trust and feel comfortable around you. If you are positively contagious you make everyone around you better. There’s no "i" in team but there are two "i" in positive. This means "I" must be positive to be my best and "I" must be positive to help my team be our best. As a team member you can be a germ or a big dose of vitamin C to your team. Choose to be positively contagious.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

An inspirational teaching story:
How much do we notice as we go through a day? 

Lisa Beamer on Good Morning America - 
    If you remember, she's the wife of Todd Beamer who said 
'Let's Roll!' and helped take down the plane over Pennsylvania
that was heading for Washington, DC back on 9/11- 
she said it's the little things that she misses most about Todd, 
such as hearing the garage door open as he came home, 
and her children running to meet him. 
 Lisa recalled this story: 
    "I had a very special teacher in high school many years 
    ago whose husband died suddenly of a heart attack. 
    About a week after his death, she shared some of her 
    insight with a classroom of students. As the late 
    afternoon sunlight came streaming in through the classroom windows 
    andthe class was nearly over, she moved a few things aside 
    on the edge of her desk and sat down there. 
    With a gentle look of reflection on her face, she paused 
    and said, 'Class is over, I would like to share with all of 
    you, a thought that is unrelated to class, but which I feel Is very 
    important. Each of us is put here on earth to learn, share, love, 
    appreciate and give of ourselves. None of us knows when this fantastic 
    experience will end. It can be taken away at any moment. 
    Perhaps this is God's way of telling us that we 
    must make the most out of every single day. Her eyes, 
    beginning to water, she went on, 'So I would like you all 
    to make me a promise. From now on, on your way to school, 
    or on your way home, find something beautiful to notice. 
    It doesn't have to be something you see, it could be a 
    scent, perhaps of freshly baked bread wafting out of 
    someone's house, or it could be the sound of the 
    breeze slightly rustling the leaves in the trees, or the 
    way the morning light catches one autumn leaf as it 
    falls gently to the ground. Please look for these things, 
    and cherish them. For, although it may sound trite to some, 
    these things are the "stuff" of life. 
    The little things we are put here on earth to enjoy. 
    The things we often take for granted. 
    The class was completely quiet. We all picked up our 
    books and filed out of the room silently. That afternoon, 
    I noticed more things on my way home from school 
    than I had that whole semester. Every once in a while, 
    I think of that teacher and remember what an impression 
    she made on all of us, and I try to appreciate all of those 
    things that sometimes we all overlook. 
    Take notice of something special you see on your lunch 
    hour today. Go barefoot. Or walk on the beach at sunset. 
    Stop off on the way home tonight to get a double dip ice cream cone. 
    For as we get older, it is not the things we did that we often regret, 
    but the things we didn't do. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Miscellaneous Reflections HS

On Overall Professional Development:
The design of the PD was effective I believe. Any time we have a choice in what we learn about, we are going to own it more and be more involved in our learning. I think this works in the classroom as well. When you can give the students a choice in how they show their learning, they are more motivated and invested in it.
The pd plans falter however when they are so spread out that we lose the connectedness of the learning. Too much time is spent reviewing and not learning new information.
- Mrs. Smith

Using the Power-School assessment area to show students their Iowa Assessment was a useful, visual tool. The students were able to "see" their scores on a graph and compare it quickly to the norm. This is helpful because students don't like using the traditional score sheet.
I enjoy having the time during PD to relate my lessons to our focus area for the PD school year. It allows me time to connect my elective courses to relevant educational material. I can show how my classes assist the student in learning the Core Curriculum.
- Mrs. Kilgard

Most of my kids did a pretty good job and they were very conscientious about whether they 
improved or not. 
- Mrs. Frimml

I was able to learn a lot from the staff in my group. Being a counselor we don't grade so what I have been doing is asking questions at the end of my lesson to see what and if they learned anything. If they did I will move on to another social skill or remain on the same skill as needed. 
I believe this will help students learn the content of a social skill rather than sitting back waiting for the next lesson. 
- Mr. Marshall

As I was looking at the scores and comparing them to last year, it appears that our work in the professional development is getting positive results. Our scores for the kids are improving and more students are moving into the higher categories of proficiency.
We need to work on computation scores. My question is how does this relate to our No Child Left Behind, and being on a school that needs assistance list.
- Mr. Schwarting

Standards-Based Grading Classroom Reflections HS

I have been using Main Idea Grading (Standards Based Grading) in my classroom for almost all classes this year.  It has been a good experience and I plan to continue using it in the future.  It has made me a better teacher in that I have been focused on what are the most important ideas for the students to learn.  I have also been more reflective in assessing students work.   I think it has been good for the students in that they are more responsible for their learning during the course of the year.  
- Mr. Megchelsen

This year I investigated Standards Based Grading. I was more concerned about learning about
what Standards Based Grading entailed and if it was applicable in my classroom. It sounds great
and super applicable to math and science, but I'm still not sure how to make it work in my
curriculum. My attempt in taking a step toward Standards Based Grading has been to increase
the usage of feedback, providing clearer expectations, and really being selective about the
types of assignments I give out and grade analyzing their importance to the value of learning.
This area has enabled me to develop an action research plan looking at giving students a dual
grade and the importance of increasing feedback. I want students to know what they do well
and the areas when they need to improve on for the future. Hopefully the future of my
classroom will include specific standards and no zero grading.
- Mrs. Driscoll

Reflections on Standards Based Grading - I think letting a student work at something until they get it correct is important, as long as they are really trying. One problem is sometimes the students need to put in extra time and they aren't willing to do it. 
- Mr. Loftus

I was working with standard base grading during the school year. For the students that I was able to work with individually on a consistent basis I had some success. I was working with one student today that I was able to see dramatic improvement from the beginning of the year. I was able to see the standards that are required for their grade level being accomplished. But the issue is if I do not have the chance to work with the individual student I can’t see where they began, current or where they are going in their path of accomplishing the current standards. This is a great direction but what will we be willing to do so it is effective?
- Mr. Redington

Reflections on Technology in the Classroom HS

In my class I tried to incorporate as much technology in each unit.  I used Keynote for presentations of Earth history.  The students enjoy the projects because they can work on them at their own speed.  They can show their creative side in the project.  They also use Pages to make graphs and tables to sum up labs information.  Over all it's been positive.
- Mr. Svare

Using technology in the classroom improves student engagement especially in regards to sharing of information and student work.  Students show pride in their output when they know others will see their work.  Also, technology can help with student/teacher communication and student organization.
- Mrs. Megchelsen

I used more technology in P.E. iPads were used in class lessons. Technology helped students by improving knowledge about usage of iPads in the P.E. setting. Students could make video presentations ahead of time and then show to the class. It was easier on some students. 
- Mr. Cooling

Students are getting better at using their iPad apps.  I have used notability, iMovies, and Keynote throughout the year.  At this time of year they are more proficient using the apps.  The students are great in helping other students, as well as myself.   They are also learning that technology doesn't always work and we have to be patient.
- Mrs. Frank